What we need to learn – ASAP about Covid-19

What we need to learn – ASAP about Covid-19.

About the author. Stephen Cherniske taught Clinical Nutrition at two southern California universities and directed the nation’s first FDA-licensed clinical lab specializing in nutrition and immunology. He and his wife, a board-certified Family Medicine MD, provide information and insights at My2048.com.


A 101- year-old man from Italy, born during the Spanish Flu Pandemic, has beaten coronavirus. He was released from hospital and is in good spirits.
In Washington State, where I live, the numbers tell another story. If you factor out the deaths occurring in two nursing homes near Seattle, the case/fatality ratio goes from 4.5% to approximately 1%.


And then there’s news from Iceland where fully half of those who tested positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and the other half, according to health authorities, display “very moderate cold-like symptoms.” Only 30 have been hospitalized out of the country’s 1,086 confirmed infections, and there are no deaths as of the time of this post.


My point is that we need to be gathering in-depth information about people who test positive and have no symptoms, as well as people who tested positive, got sick and recovered. This information would be compared to age-matched individuals who became severely ill or who died. In other words, we need to look for the factors that protect people from this virus.


If you know me or have read any of my books, you know that my first biomarker would be serum DHEA sulfate (DHEAS). That stems from a conference I attended in Milan 25 years ago where an Italian gerontologist named Giovanni Ravaglia pointed out the remarkable correlation between successful aging and one’s DHEA level. That was followed by hundreds of studies showing the role that DHEA plays in immunity, muscle mass, bone density and the risk for virtually every major cause of death. You can download my e-book, The Case for DHEA for free at My2048.com.


My next biomarker would be Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D. That’s because vast numbers of adults in North America have very low levels of vitamin D, and multiple studies with thousands of men and women, have found that low levels are associated with not just the risk for osteoporosis, but cancer, cardiovascular disease, infection and death from any cause.


Next, serum zinc, another nutrient critically important for immunity, and finally, serum ferritin, for the opposite reason. People eating a Western diet tend to have low levels of zinc, but high levels of iron derived primarily from red meat. Menstruating women lose iron every month, and thus do not accumulate excess iron. But after menopause, they have the same increased risk for infection as men. That’s because all pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, need iron to proliferate, and excess tissue levels worsen infection.


1. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996 Mar;81(3):1173-8.
The relationship of DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) to endocrine-metabolic parameters and functional status in the oldest-old. Results from an Italian study on healthy free-living over-ninety-year-olds.
Ravaglia G, Forti P, et al.


2. Rejuvenation Res. 2012 Aug;15(4):349-58.
Serum DHEA sulfate and adverse health outcomes in older men and women. Forti P1, Maltoni B, Olivelli V, Pirazzoli GL, Ravaglia G, Zoli M.


3. Exp Gerontol. 2002 May;37(5):701-12.
DHEA-sulfate serum levels and common age-related diseases: results from a cross-sectional Italian study of a general elderly population. Ravaglia G, Forti P, Maioli F, Sacchetti L, Nativio V, Scali CR, Mariani E, Zanardi V, Stefanini A, Macini PL.


4. Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Apr;116(1):19-27.
Vitamin D, thyroid hormones and muscle mass influence natural killer (NK) innate immunity in healthy nonagenarians and centenarians.
Mariani E, Ravaglia G, et al.


5. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol2017;5:986-1004. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on non-skeletal disorders: a systematic review of meta-analyses and randomised trials. Autier P, Mullie P, Macacu A, et al.


6. Cochrane Database Syst Rev2014;(1):CD007470.
Vitamin D supplementation for prevention of mortality in adults. Bjelakovic G, Gluud LL, Nikolova D, et al.


7. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol2014;2:307-20 The effect of vitamin D supplementation on skeletal, vascular, or cancer outcomes: a trial sequential meta-analysis. Bolland MJ, Grey A, Gamble GD, Reid IR.


8. Biogerontology. 2006 Oct-Dec;7(5-6):449-59.
Simultaneous evaluation of circulating chemokine and cytokine profiles in elderly subjects by multiplex technology: relationship with zinc status. Mariani E, Cattini L, et al.


9. Exp Gerontol. 2004 Sep;39(9):1415-22.
Peripheral blood markers of inflammation and functional impairment in elderly community-dwellers. Ravaglia G, Forti P, et al
10. Reviews of Infectious Diseases, Volume 3, Issue 6, November 1981, Pages 1127–1138. The Significance of Iron in Infection. J. J. Bullen
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